Richest countries destroying environment for kids worldwide, says UNICEF

New York, New York - The way the richest nations use resources is destroying environments for children around the world, says the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF called out rich countries like the US for overdoing it on consumerism.
UNICEF called out rich countries like the US for overdoing it on consumerism.  © REUTERS

If the whole world consumed resources at the rate of the world's wealthiest countries, the equivalent of more than three Earths would be needed to keep up, according to UNICEF.

In a report released Tuesday, the UN children's fund compared the global environmental impact of 39 countries in the European Union and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Exposure to harmful pollutants, consumption of resources, dumping of e-waste and national contributions to the climate crisis are among the factors the report takes into account.

The best and worst countries for children's environments

Spain, Ireland, and Portugal are at the top of the ranking as they offer their own children a good environment to live in and have a comparatively low contribution to global environmental problems.

The US, Australia, Belgium, and Canada meanwhile are among the world's richest countries reported to have a severe impact on the global environment, as well as for children worldwide and domestically.

"Not only are the majority of rich countries failing to provide healthy environments for children within their borders, they are also contributing to the destruction of children's environments in other parts of the world," said Gunilla Olsson, director of UNICEF's Office of Research.

"In some cases, we are seeing countries providing relatively healthy environments for children at home while being among the top contributors to pollutants that are destroying children's environments abroad."

Cover photo: REUTERS

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